We did use real meat, beef, in fact, but it's from the good people at Heartland Farms. Very good.
Okay here's the procedure.
Sauté about 3/4 lbs of ground beef in two tbsp of olive oil until the beef gets "poro poro," Japanese onomatopoeia for crumbly (and in this case browned). Add a bit of red (or white) wine (50cc or so) and evaporate. Put in garlic (2-3 cloves), half an onion (not sliced) and bell peppers (cut in half). Add half a liter of strained tomatoes and a bit o' water. (Note: We tried to put fresh tomatoes in a blender and use that but the resulting slurry was too liquid-y and not tomato-y enough. So we added some tomato paste.) Add salt and fresh basil (2 stems). Once that comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 30-40 minutes. When the onion and bell peppers become soft, it's done. Pour the sauce onto freshly boiled al dente pasta (we used medium sized shells), add some parmesan or pecorino, and you're done.
Here's where you can make some olio santo for some spice. Heat up a good amount of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add freshly chopped hot peppers and salt and take the pan off of the fire. Let the peppers change color but not burn. Voilá!